(photo via Gimme Brains Distro)
For today’s International Zine Month activity - “Re-read your favorite zines” - I’m picking out a favorite from 2010, Hoax #2. The issue actually came out in 2009, but I discovered it at Bluestockings during a trip to New York that following August. I loved the name, seeing it in big white letters against black ink on the cover. The explanation of the zine’s name on the inside cover is what hooked me. The title came from Donna Haraway's writing about P.T. Barnum, and “hoax" as an entertainment form that was "an invitation to find the flaw in an apparent natural truth."
Of course, that’s the goal of Rachel and Sari, the editors behind Hoax, as well as the other writers whose work is compiled for each issue. They’re exposing the holes in how our society regards gender, whether that be in so-called “traditional” roles, power dynamics in relationships, or even how it defines “feminism.”
This issue’s stories range from everyday struggles, like deciding how to dress in the workplace and navigating self-disclosure with colleagues, to “serious and somber” topics, including some potentially triggering pieces about physical violence. There are also a lot of fun and insightful features, including vegan recipes and interesting facts about the history of birth control (you’ll never look at crocodiles the same).
Rachel and Sari’s work is a benefit to activism, thoughtfulness, and consciousness. I may like to think of myself as an ally, but I am still a straight and white cis male in a world that caters to me - I will always have a lot to learn. The best way for me to do that is to read good and smart stuff like this zine.
I’ve not met either Rachel or Sari yet, but I hope to someday personally thank them both. This publication was one of the first to get me interested in zines again after I had spent a few years disconnected. In the meantime, this post will have to do…
Thanks, Rachel! Thanks, Sari! For making me a better reader. For inspiring me to be a better writer (I’m still trying to put together something I’m satisfied with to submit for your consideration). For helping me try to be a better feminist.
Everybody else, go buy some Hoax!